The Fab Four: four key tech areas shaping how restaurants are run

By Georgia Bronte contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Fab Four: four key tech areas shaping how restaurants are run

Related tags: Technology, Restaurant

There’s a plethora of technology solutions available online to help hospitality businesses improve operations and achieve efficiency savings.

Here, we take a look at four key areas where online technology can really give your business a boost

Payments

Consumers are so used to paying for goods and services online, it’s no wonder they expect to be able to pay for their meal online too. Pay-at-table technology like Worldpay Total Hospitality gives them this option while smoothing the process for the restaurant operator. Worldpay Total Hospitality enables staff to call up the bill as soon as it is requested, print it straight away via the card machine, and take payment at the same time, eliminating the back and forth between table and till.

Shaun Puckrin, Worldpay chief product and innovation officer, says: “Increasingly, consumers have come to expect the same frictionless service they receive online in the real world, with technology shifting the perception of what the modern dining experience should be. Payment stress can taint the entire dining experience so Worldpay Total Hospitality allows restaurants
to alleviate the payment heartburn.” The technology is also fully integrated with Your Marketplace, Worldpay’s intelligent payments analytics tool, which gives operators a complete overview of sales performance.

Another major player in online payments is iZettle, with its iZettle Pro app. The iZettle Reader integrates seamlessly with the iZettle Pro app and accepts chip, swipe and contactless payments, as well as Apple and Android pay. Key features include table management, split bill and open tab, tableside ordering with mobile devices, customer loyalty accounts, stock and inventory management, sales overview, and reports and employee management.

Tom Moore, head of product at iZettle Pro, says: “At iZettle, we’re constantly working to make payment experiences as easy as possible. In the food and drink sector this is essential for the efficiency of operations. Integrated tipping, rapid payment authorisations, contactless and mobile payments are all part of our iZettle Pro solution, which is specifically designed for the hospitality industry.”

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Workforce management

There are solutions online to help with every aspect of running a restaurant business – and increasingly that includes tools to manage teams, track staff performance and attendance, and more. One such solution is Trail, an app launched in 2014 to fill a perceived gap in the market for an online checklist for back-of-house teams.

Co-founder Joe Cripps explains: “Across the industry, we were seeing disconnect between head offices and sites. Teams were using various tools in an attempt to bridge that gap, but unfortunately many of these methods and technologies (paper, email, WhatsApp, frequent site visits) were inefficient, costly, insecure and prone to human error.

“In an industry that experiences such high turnover, it’s more important than ever for new employees to be able to jump into the job as soon as possible without sacrificing consistency and quality. Trail helps them do this with smart checklists that let them know what needs to be done and when. Brands using Trail report improved team engagement because the technology looks and works like apps they use in their day-to-day life.”

Fourth Hospitality has developed systems to aid managers in deploying staff in the most efficient way. Mike Shipley, analytics and insights director at Fourth, says: “We are in the midst of an unprecedented period of rising costs for the hospitality industry, and it’s no longer enough for operators to just focus on a great customer experience: you have to be smarter with how you deploy your two key resources – product and people.

“Using smart scheduling technology, you can ensure you have the optimum number of team members on throughout the day. Our data science team have examined over 17 million data points to build the world’s most accurate forecast, which we then use to build a shape of the day – graphically showing the manager not just how many workers are needed across the day, but the mix of the individual job functions required.”

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Fourth has also partnered with Wagestream to help hospitality employees avoid getting into debt: employees are able to access some of the wages they have accrued that month ahead of pay day by visiting the Wagestream app and paying a flat rate £1.75 fee. 

Fourth’s Shipley says: “The mental and financial welfare of employees is paramount for operators. This will fundamentally change the way in which payment is made in the UK, and remove the need for predatory pay day loan companies who prey on people when they need emergency cash."

Cloud solutions and integration

More and more hospitality operators are moving over to cloud-based systems thanks to their dynamic nature: they offer access to live information from a central database, plus the added bonus of rationalisation of hardware.

Mark Gausden of leading technology company Oracle says: “Cloud technology gives restaurants many advantages, including the ability to use real-time data to make data-driven decisions, and to test new ideas that can be reviewed centrally before being rolled out  across multiple locations.

“Cloud also cuts down IT costs in the long term. Gone are the days when a new restaurant location required a consultant to carry out a lengthy and costly server con iguration onsite. With cloud technology, everything is configured in advance, meaning a newly installed server is ready to connect to the cloud from the moment it’s plugged in and switched on, greatly reducing the amount of IT hardware and resource required at each individual restaurant.”

Of course, cloud solutions are nothing if they don’t integrate seamlessly with the other technology you use in your business – be that your EPoS system or external partners. 

Clive Consterdine of Zonal says: “At Zonal we have led the way in providing fully integrated business modules that complete the customer journey, from booking online to feedback and loyalty. Not only do our own branded applications integrate with our Aztec EPoS, but we have forged a number of partnerships with other leading technology providers such as Feed It Back, Wireless Social, Fourth and IOVOX.”

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The requirement for systems to integrate with other technology providers is something Oracle also takes very seriously. 

Gausden explains: “Having solutions that allow easy integration of new capabilities into existing systems is extremely advantageous. For example, TGI Fridays, Oracle and Mastercard recently banded together to enable a digital bar tab, allowing diners to split their bill, manage rounds of drinks, and pay without using a card machine, all via a mobile app.”

Eloise Sheppard, managing director of Call Systems Technology (CST), adds: “With the push towards food delivery continuing, integrated technology will only have an ever bigger part to play. One of my main tips is to choose an EPoS provider that can guarantee its systems will integrate with all of the digital platforms the business needs across front and back-of-house, to allow for future growth yet maintain value for money from technology.”

EPoS

These days EPoS does far, far more than what it says on the tin – and its functionalities are expanding all the time. The latest developments in EPoS have focused largely on offering a
comprehensive range of business solutions that integrate seamlessly with the PoS.

For example, Tevalis’ recently launched Digital Whiteboard, developed through consultation with the Michelin-starred The Black Swan at Oldstead, in North Yorkshire, offers efficient course tracking for fine-dining operators and integrates fully with the Tevalis PoS. The other big growth area for Tevalis has been the move to handheld devices for ordering and payments.

Sales director James Humble says: “We’re at the peak of the digital era, where speed and accessibility has become a key priority for customers. Understandably, businesses everywhere want to ensure they’re meeting that requirement to keep their customer satisfaction levels high and their effiiciency maximised. That’s exactly why handheld ordering has really taken off and made a presence within the industry in more recent years. As it’s becoming a standardised and mainstream solution, we wanted to ensure our handheld ordering solution was exceeding the needs of our clients. Therefore, this year our teams completed the redevelopment of the solution, which now means orders can be successfully processed regardless of Wi-Fi strength."

For Zonal, the largest growth area in the past 12 months has been mobile order and pay applications, with the company’s marketing technologies team witnessing a 400% increase in enquiries from hospitality brands seeking to develop their own app. 

Zonal’s Consterdine says: “Having led the march on providing an integrated white label app solution, Zonal’s Order and Pay is proving a very effective tool in terms of driving additional revenue for its customers.”

He adds: “We have also been supporting high street operators to optimise the opportunity of chatbots within channels such as Facebook’s Messenger. This form of communication is changing the way that bookings and orders are being taken and we predict will continue to grow as chatbot technology becomes more familiar in our everyday lives.”

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